For Magelis, interactive comic strips constituted
a research laboratory for experimenting with multimedia narrative forms.
The format permitted the construction of a fragmentary story space and
time frame capable of being represented in a concurrent manner, and
where the multiple threads and interactions of the story would be able
to play out.
The first interactive comic strip was made in 1992, running on a 21
inch Macintosh monitor. It tells the story of a photographer named Marcel,
who has to photograph a model named Annabella with whom he is deeply in
love. The interactive comic strip presents the entire story on a single
screen, which metamorphoses constantly as the story unfolds, following
the player's choices. There are seven endings, not all happy, that range
from marriage vows to joining the Foreign Legion.
It was made by Sylvie Rabie, Joseph Rabie, and Ivan Roux.
This work received the "Faust" Silver trophy in Toulouse in
1992, was shown by the "Apple Studio" at Imagina in Monte-Carlo
in 1993, and received a "Noteworthy" mention in the first "New
Voices, New Visions" competition organised in New York in 1994 by
the Voyager Company, Wired Magazine and Interval Research (one of the
members of the jury being Art Spiegelman). At that time it was exhibited
with the other winners at the New York Film Festival and at the University
Magelis never gave up on the project for
an interactive comic strip. Overexposed! was a prototype for a commercial
version, made in 1997. It was to be based on the same photographer -
who in the meantime had been renamed Jonas P Levitan. In Overexposed!
Jonas lives in an apartment building with a host of very interactive
neighbours and a disastrous plumber. The plot calls on him to photograph
and save a hibernating princess, uncover a ring of counterfeiters, find
a costume and partner for a very chic masked ball, and with a bit of
luck discover that the two dimensional cartoon world on which all this
takes place is not as flat as it seems...
The work on Overexposed! allowed the development of a series of paradigms
for assembling the panels making up the comic strip format. For example,
the use of an architectural cross-section through the building and Jonas's
apartment to construct a theatrical space. Or the presentation of a sequential
series of events, where any decision made by the player at a particular
moment would result in the immediate future, visible in the following
panels, being instantly transformed. In this way, the multiple possibilities
of cause and effect in a non-linear narrative could be given a tangible,
While this project generated much interest, Magelis was unable to raise
the necessary financing, as potential partners considered the risk to
be too great (except for a Canadian firm which went bankrupt before the
contract was signed).
The prototype was made by Laure Calandre, Martin Faynot, Marc Khanne,
Sylvie Rabie and Joseph Rabie.